Education Funding

Adam Cotterell / Boise State Public Radio

A judge has tossed out part of a case to change education funding in Idaho. The case, known as "Joki vs. the State of Idaho," was filed last fall alleging it was unconstitutional for school districts to charge fees for classes. Wednesday’s hearing was to decide what parts of this case could move forward.

Adam Cotterell / Boise State Public Radio

Idaho voters Tuesday agreed to pay more than $100 million in additional taxes over the next few years when they approved 36 new school district levies. Reliance on supplemental levies to shore up school budgets has increased dramatically since the recession spurred cuts in state funding.  

David Adler, director of the Andrus Center for Public Policy at Boise State, says the legislature is increasingly shifting the responsibility to fund education to local homeowners who pay property taxes. He says Tuesday’s levy votes reveal a disconnect between voters and lawmakers.

Empty Classroom
Karen Apricot New Orleans / Flickr Creative Commons

Updated 11:30 A.M.: Teachers, administrators and parents in the Nampa School District are likely breathing a sigh of relief. Nearly three quarters of voters said yes to a $4.3 million levy request Tuesday.

School districts across Idaho are asking voters for more money Tuesday through levies. Many districts that are still recovering from years of state budget cuts say they need more help from local residents. The Payette school district, for example, may have to close a small elementary school and send its students to other district schools.  

Adam Cotterell / Boise State Public Radio

It’s been several days since the federal spending cuts known as the sequester went into effect, and it’s still unclear how they will impact people’s lives.

Darin Oswald / Idaho Statesman

About 350 people came to a meeting at Idaho’s capital Monday night which lawmakers called an education listening session. Many signed up to share their thoughts on issues facing public schools. One theme rose to the top, education funding, or the lack of it. 

Adam Cotterell / Boise State Public Radio

Idaho’s Superintendent of Education asked lawmakers Thursday to increase funding for public schools by 3 percent. For some details on that proposed budget our education reporter Adam Cotterell joined All Things Considered host Samantha Wright in the studio.

Here follows a transcript of that conversation:

Samantha Wright: Adam Where should we start?

Adam Cotterell: How about where Superintendent Tom Luna started with lawmakers?

Tom Luna: “A lot has occurred since I stood before you a year ago.”

Frankie Barnhill / Boise State Public Radio

For the past three days, the presidents of Idaho’s state colleges and universities have stood before lawmakers. They’ve all made the case for why their school should get state money. But that’s been an increasingly tough sell over the years.

This year Idaho’s colleges and universities got a $19 million boost from lawmakers. But after several years of cuts that only brought higher education spending back to 2006 levels. And even in times when schools were getting more money each year, the increases did not keep pace with growth.

Malate269 / Wikimedia Commons

First came the preliminaries: welcomes, thanks, a nod to Abraham Lincoln for creating the Idaho Territory 150 years ago this year.  But then it was time for the money. Governor Butch Otter’s first announcement in his State of the State address Monday was a proposal to raise state spending as a whole by 3.1 percent. That’s based on an estimated 5.3 percent increase in revenue. 

Emilie Ritter Saunders / StateImpact Idaho

This week we’ve been following a new lawsuit that alleges Idaho is not meeting its constitutional duty to adequately fund schools. Also this week Governor Butch Otter turned heads when he was asked if the state was living up to the constitution in that area.

“I would say probably not, but we’re doing the best job that we can,” Otter responded.

Empty Classroom
Karen Apricot New Orleans / Flickr Creative Commons

A group of parents filed a lawsuit in October over fees in Idaho schools. They say charging fees for classes like science or art violates the state constitution. But to take on the state to change the education system they needed the right lawyer. They found Robert Huntley.

We first heard from Russel Joki two months ago when he and a group of parents filed a lawsuit against the state and its school districts.  Joki says the genesis of the suit came when he registered his grandson at Meridian High School.

“He was charged fees to take a chemistry class, to take a sports medicine class,” he recalls. “He was charged fees to enroll in art classes.”  

wikimedia commons

As a group, property owners in Meridian and Eagle will pay half a million dollars more this year. That’s because the state’s largest school district passed an emergency levy this week. This type of levy does not require voter approval. School boards can pass them if student enrollment exceeds expectations.

Adam Cotterell / Boise State Public Radio

Idaho’s School Superintendent wants the state to spend 5.1 percent more on education next year. Tom Luna released his proposed budget Thursday for fiscal year 2014. In January he’ll ask lawmakers to approve it.

Molly Messick / StateImpact Idaho

You might not guess it, if you happened to pass through, but tiny Rockland, Idaho, population three hundred eighteen, is a place of distinction.  Continue reading.